Senate approval of amended HSA to complete weaponization of the law under Duterte

“It is unfortunate that majority of our Senators voted in favor of Senate Bill 1083 which entailed expansive provisions that may be abused under the guise of anti-terrorism efforts. Overall, these latest amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007 do not serve the common good and public interest. It would only help President Rodrigo Duterte complete his tyranny and dictatorial rule. It will give Duterte further ammunition to silence his critics, the political opposition, and the restive population,” says Danilo Ramos, chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. KMP strongly condemns the Senate approval of the Human Security Act amendments. The Lower House is set to deliberate on its consolidated counterpart proposals on March 2.

“Practically anyone who is arbitrarily branded or deemed as a “terrorist” could be penalized under the approved bill. Under EO 70, the government has already institutionalized the branding and tagging of activists as “communists-terrorists.” We oppose these draconian measures that will further abuse human rights and oppress Filipinos.”

The amended HSA bill seeks to impose more stringent penalties against those who “propose, incite, conspire, or participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation” of a so-called “terrorist” act as well as those who finance or provide material support to “terrorists” and recruit members to a “terrorist” group. It will also hold liable any person who has knowledge of a commission of a “terrorist” act, despite having no direct participation therein, but profited or assisted the offender by concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or by harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the principal or conspirator of the crime. The penalty and jail time for such violations range from 12 years to lifetime imprisonment.

“Provisions indicated both in the Senate and House versions of the amended HSA bills could be translated into law enforcement interpretation to abuse inherent freedoms, civil and political rights, as well as dissent and critical thinking. For whom are these HSA amendments for? Is it really to protect the nation from internal and external threats or to use the full range of the law to silence and quell all forms of political dissent and assertion of democratic rights?” 

Other provisions in the proposed amended HSA bills could violate a person’s right against illegal or arbitrary arrests and detention, and the right to privacy, among others. Previous safeguards against abuse of the law were also removed.

“The amended HSA extends and broadens the scope of the law without any justifiable basis from the proponents. The proposed amendment will only result in the further criminalisation of dissent. It will also give wide authority to categorise otherwise legal acts, profession and business, as criminal. Furthermore, the majority of the crimes listed in the proposal are penalised with life imprisonment,” Ramos said.

KMP is set to join the protests against the amended HSA next week at the House of Representatives. ###

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